I think Superintendent Geritta Postlewait’s plan to increase diversity at Academic Magnet High School is one that appears to be headed in the right direction. At least that the areas needing to be concentrated on to increase the diversity of the applicant pool are being looked at.
AMHS is somewhat a victim of its own success. When high achieving public schools are available they attract high achieving students. Those high achieving students come from schools and households where expectations are high. I would imagine that the proportion of folks who could opt for (i.e. afford) private school is relatively high at AMHS compared to most high schools in Charleston County.
Who wouldn’t opt for a nationally ranked school that’s public? Unfortunately the laws of supply and demand then kick in and those with the desire or means to prepare their children for a demanding school such as AMHS will win out over those who, while capable of excelling in that environment, were not adequately prepared to get into it.
The only way to correct this is to begin preparing these students for that level in elementary school. It’s a long-term fix that probably means it’s too late for many who are currently in middle school. If students aren’t capable of reading at almost the high school level by 6th grade, had algebra by 7th or 8th and attended elementary and middle schools that could support them at these levels, they are going to find it very difficult to succeed at a school like AMHS.
Educating a child is a process that has to involve parents, teachers, schools and the community in that order. Concentrating on raising the level of younger students is going to be the most effective way to increase academic achievement.
I hope Superintendent Postlewait succeeds in introducing a needed academic boost to the schools and students that need it most, much as Dr. Nancy McGinley’s reading initiatives did, but it’s a long process and too many folks want the quick, easy solution of the here and now.
The root causes, as many of us know, for all the “gaps” (achievement, income, housing, etc.) go way beyond what the school board and district can deal with. They need to concentrate on the task of the most effective way to educate children to the highest level possible in all schools.